Tape Loops

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GhostlyMostly
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Tape Loops

Post by GhostlyMostly » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:40 pm

I have been recording to tape and tinkering about lately, lost in tape loop land(cassette and reel to reel) and figured I would start a thread for videos and links that I find along the way. Have any guides, tips or info to share?


http://www.thefullwiki.org/Making_Cassette_Tape_Loops


[video][/video]
Last edited by GhostlyMostly on Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by Ramases » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:48 pm

I came across this video of Terry Riley a few weeks ago which I enjoyed.

[video][/video]

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Post by ersatzplanet » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:25 pm

I was part of a all synthesizer group back in the late 70's early 80's and we used tape loops quite a bit. Samplers were very expensive and rare. We used reel to reel decks and made our own loops from sound effects records and field recordings. Most of our decks were modified with variable speed controls (all manual, none CV). We did lots of stereo stuff and our shows were all in stereo. I became very good at splicing tape (a good block is a great help).

We used to do a lot of stuff based on specific loop lengths to create interlocking patterns and did some multi-machine loops (loops strung between two or more machines to make long echo fields). It is great how a little found sound or location recording can add that little something to an otherwise totally electronic piece.

Today, I use some DIY modules based on the WaveTrigger PCB from Sparkfun. It is a little $50 assembled PCB that will play up to 14 tracks of CD quality sound all off a little microSD card. MUCH easier than using tape though not as visually interesting for sure. You can have loops that have lengths only restricted by the size of the micrSD card you are using.
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Post by leeski » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:28 pm

:yay: [video][/video]
«:::A:::» «:::W:::» «:::E:::» «:::S:::» «:::O:::» «:::M:::» «:::E:::»

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Post by ersatzplanet » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:00 pm

leeski wrote::yay: [video][/video]
If you have a tape deck that DOESN'T have a 50/60 cycle switch on the back, this means that the deck uses DC motors to drive the capstans. Many Sony decks are like that. This means you can make them vary-speed.

Pop it open and you will find a PCB near the motors with a couple of trimmers marked for the two speeds the deck runs in. All you have to do is get a pot at the same value as one of them. Cut the trace going to the wiper and put a switch in that switches between the new pot and the old trimmer. Wire the other legs of the new pot to the same legs on the trimmer. Now when you switch to the pot, you can change the speed of the deck. I have done this to a few decks. In most cases you won't be able to go much faster than the fastest normal speed, but you can go slow all the way down to a stop in many cases (don't want to do that for very long, the motors get hot). You will get plenty of useable echo speeds.

This also works well for playing back loops and recording at a much lower speed which will result in some VERY good industrial backgrounds from many different field recordings. The only problem that arises is that the original bias oscillator that is recorded, which is typically super audio and not hearable, will drop down to an audible background whine.

If the deck has both mic and line inputs, a headphone out, and separate level controls, an external mixer isn't needed in the echo loop. You plug into the left line in, take the left headphone out and plug it into the right line in, take the right headphone out and plug it into the Left mic input. Take both line outs back to your mixer. Now you have stereo ping-pong echos. The left mic input is your feedback control. Make sure the deck is set to monitor from the tape, the direct signal is from your original mixer channel.
-James

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Post by MindMachine » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:13 am

I have some old TDK and Radio Shack Cassette loops: 15 sec., 20 sec. 30 seconds. I still use them. They have a silent spot where they were 'spliced' as they were meant for old phone answering machines. I have two old RS portable table top recorders, a Sony Pressman and a Tascam 414 MK II. I put a loop in the 414 and stack hand drums on it and then play over the splice part live. Record 4 different radio broadcasts on the loop, etc. Crude but fun and sometimes effective.

(James - I still use 3 small Sony cd players for sound effects recordings. I have about 25 cd's of sound effects and environmental sounds. The cd players and tape decks have their own sub-mixer and table in my studio.)

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Post by dubonaire » Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:24 am

Chris Randall posted a couple of good videos:

[video][/video]


[video][/video]

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Post by commodorejohn » Sun Mar 05, 2017 10:35 am

I've always been curious, how do you tell where to cut it to begin or end at a particular point? Or don't you?
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Post by knows » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:03 pm

commodorejohn wrote:I've always been curious, how do you tell where to cut it to begin or end at a particular point? Or don't you?
You need to scrub back and forth on the play head a bit to find the spot and mark it.
I love tape loops.

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Post by ersatzplanet » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:30 pm

knows wrote:
commodorejohn wrote:I've always been curious, how do you tell where to cut it to begin or end at a particular point? Or don't you?
You need to scrub back and forth on the play head a bit to find the spot and mark it.
I love tape loops.
The classic technique was to use a tape deck with exposed heads and do just what knows says and scrub back and forth manually till you get to the spot you want, then you would mark the tape with a china marker and slice it there on the edit block.

In classic Music Concrete this technique was used dozens of times, re-recording the spliced tape and re-spliceing the tape over and over. Some classic pieces had the equivalent of hundreds of splices in some sections. Splicing back then, before synthesizers were common, was how you MADE the sound. splicing at different angles to create fades and such. Much easier to do on the full track and half track decks that were much more common. And 15ips speed too.
-James

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Post by leeski » Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:47 pm

ersatzplanet
thats a great hack for vari speed :wow:
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Post by GhostlyMostly » Tue Apr 11, 2017 10:44 am

I sold my technique 1200's and am still working on the moves but here you go:

[video][/video]
Last edited by GhostlyMostly on Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by proteus-ix » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:12 pm

GhostlyMostly wrote:I sold my technique 1200's and am still working on the moves but here you go:

[video][/video]
Can you please include NSFW for stuff like this? That was obscene.

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Re: Tape Loops

Post by proteus-ix » Tue Apr 11, 2017 4:30 pm

GhostlyMostly wrote:I have been recording to tape and tinkering about lately, lost in tape loop land(cassette and reel to reel) and figured I would start a thread for videos and links that I find along the way. Have any guides, tips or info to share?


http://www.thefullwiki.org/Making_Cassette_Tape_Loops


[video][/video]
Thanks for this thread, one of my favorite musicians (Muslimgauze) worked almost entirely with tape loops (as far as anyone knows wtf he did), so I've always been curious.

But just technically - outside of the aesthetics and fun of playing with physical tape - is there anything you can do with tape that you *can't* do in a DAW? Or anything that is just easier with tape?

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Post by Petesasqwax » Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:33 am

ersatzplanet wrote:Today, I use some DIY modules based on the WaveTrigger PCB from Sparkfun. It is a little $50 assembled PCB that will play up to 14 tracks of CD quality sound all off a little microSD card. MUCH easier than using tape though not as visually interesting for sure. You can have loops that have lengths only restricted by the size of the micrSD card you are using.
That sounds fantastic. I was thinking about using a laptop to loop a series of single notes in order to create droning modal chords which I can control by fading loops (/notes) up and down, then running the output through guitar pedals as a backdrop for bass lines and processed drums. Am I right in think that this could be a non-laptop way to do that? I don't have an Eurorack modules - could this operate as a standalone?

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Post by ersatzplanet » Wed Apr 12, 2017 12:04 pm

Petesasqwax wrote:
ersatzplanet wrote:Today, I use some DIY modules based on the WaveTrigger PCB from Sparkfun. It is a little $50 assembled PCB that will play up to 14 tracks of CD quality sound all off a little microSD card. MUCH easier than using tape though not as visually interesting for sure. You can have loops that have lengths only restricted by the size of the micrSD card you are using.
That sounds fantastic. I was thinking about using a laptop to loop a series of single notes in order to create droning modal chords which I can control by fading loops (/notes) up and down, then running the output through guitar pedals as a backdrop for bass lines and processed drums. Am I right in think that this could be a non-laptop way to do that? I don't have an Eurorack modules - could this operate as a standalone?
The guy who made the WaveTrigger has just released a new version called the Tsunami ( https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13810 ) for $80. This board is like the WaveTrigger except it has 8 CHANNELS out and the MIDI built in. Plays 32 mono tracks or 18 stereo ones at one time. You can access 4096 different tracks via MIDI. All in the same 3" square for factor.

Image
-James

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Post by Petesasqwax » Wed Apr 12, 2017 4:17 pm

Incredible! Thank you!

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Post by felixer » Wed Apr 12, 2017 6:39 pm

ersatzplanet wrote: The guy who made the WaveTrigger has just released a new version called the Tsunami ( https://www.sparkfun.com/products/13810 ) for $80. This board is like the WaveTrigger except it has 8 CHANNELS out and the MIDI built in. Plays 32 mono tracks or 18 stereo ones at one time. You can access 4096 different tracks via MIDI. All in the same 3" square for factor.

Image
wow, looks like a useful lil' pcb. did a lot of tapesplicing in the old days (before digital) but it is such a pita to keep track of what is what ... you easily end up with reversed bits etc ... sounds like fun now, but not at the time ...
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by GhostlyMostly » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:37 am

Image
I have 2 R2R machines headed to my house and will be here in a few days :sb: :banana:
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Post by GhostlyMostly » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:48 am

[video][/video]
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Post by MindMachine » Fri Apr 14, 2017 11:13 pm

Nice stuff Ghostly Mostly. Is that a Tascam M35?
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Post by felixer » Sat Apr 15, 2017 6:33 am

imho the only really usefull reel-to-treel would be a really good one. everything else is 'just for fun'. obviously you can make tapeloops on any machine. and experimenting with different speed is fun. but if you want something with good soundquality you need a studer or a nagra. otherwise you will be plagued by noise and/or distortion. not really worth it, nowadays, methinks ...
don't need midi, don't need keys, just want knobs and cables (all together now ;-)

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Post by GhostlyMostly » Sat Apr 15, 2017 9:03 am

MindMachine wrote:Nice stuff Ghostly Mostly. Is that a Tascam M35?
Sure is! He threw it in for an extra 50$ too!
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Post by notmiserlouagain » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:41 am

GhostlyMostly was that your looping track you posted`?
I think it´s really beautiful!
There´s an organic quality in those sounds, that keeps the attention/tension high even if not much is really happening in terms of musical development.
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Post by GhostlyMostly » Thu May 11, 2017 1:36 am

notmiserlouagain wrote:GhostlyMostly was that your looping track you posted`?
I think it´s really beautiful!
There´s an organic quality in those sounds, that keeps the attention/tension high even if not much is really happening in terms of musical development.
No sir, those were not my sounds but also enjoyed them. :tu:
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